In 2015, Forbes reported that the third-most preferred course among employers looking to hire college graduates was a master degree in computer science. 58% of the companies were found to have hired graduates of the discipline. Over the past few years, it has become the most popular program opted by students worldwide. The reason for this is self-evident. Technology touches every corner of life, and with coming years it is sure to advance. Therefore, earning an MS in computer science will equip you with the skills required for a lucrative career in a field that shows no signs of stopping. The course familiarizes students with software development and disciplines pertaining to computer science such as networking, systems, propramming, algorithms, and theory. By the end of the course, the student acquires the skills and knowledge required to deal with computer technologies and becomes eligible for well-paid career profiles of software engineer, software developer, programme analyst, and so on.
Masters in computer science courses are generally designed as a Master of Science program. There might be some universities which offer programs like Master of engineering in computer science (Cornell) or MS in computer science and engineering (NYU). The degree can be one to two years long. They can be pursued full or part-time with the option of an on-campus or online course. The exact structure varies from country to country and college to college.
The syllabus is divided into compulsory and optional modules. While the electives decide your specialization (explained further below), the mandatory topics are usually:
- Database design
- Network architecture
- Software development
- Applied communications
You will be assessed on the basis of essay papers, practical work, and a research project or dissertation.
The eligibility for MS in computer science will differ as per university and college. But the broad masters in computer science requirements will be:
- A bachelor’s degree, with a good GPA, in a related field such as:
- Computer science
A few exceptions do exist like MSc in Computer Science offered by the University of Birmingham, which requires an Honours degree in any subject other than computing.
The answer to which is the best course for masters in computer science is subjective. It varies as per the career goals and interest areas of the student. But there are some masters in computer science specializations that are commonly opted for. We give below a list of master degree courses in computer science with a broad idea of the topics taught and the career opportunities they open up.
1. Software Engineering
This specialisation provides not only software development skills but also customer collaboration and management skills necessary to solve complex real-world problems.
A Master of Computer Science (Software Engineering) course includes:
- Modern Software Engineering Principles
- Service-Oriented Software Engineering
- Software Requirements
- Specification and Formal Methods
- Software Testing and Analysis.
The degree is perfect for a career in managerial roles related to information technology and also the best way to prepare for entry into research degrees. The common job position is a Software Engineer with a median salary of $99,000.
2. Systems Engineering
The systems engineering specialization is home to most of the hard-core programming classes. The curriculum provides an in-depth knowledge of computer science and prepares engineers and IT professionals in the industry to design systems using a methodical system of engineering process.
Some of the subjects covered in the specialization are:
- Computer Architecture
- Computer Operating Systems
- Design and Analysis of Algorithms
- Database Systems
- Computer Networks
- Systems Engineering Principles
- System Architecture and Design
A system engineer has the probability of earning an average salary of $80,056.
3. Data Science
The Master of Science in Computer Science (Data Science) offers a core background in CS with exhaustive knowledge in areas such as algorithmic, statistical, and systems expertise.
A few topics that are taught in the program are:
- Analysis of Algorithms
- Database Systems
- Foundations of Artificial Intelligence
- Information Integration on the Web
- Information Retrieval and Web Search Engines
- Machine Learning
- Probabilistic Reasoning
- Advanced Big Data Analytics
After the completion of this specialisation, a student can opt for a career as a Data Scientist, Data Analyst, or Research Scientist with a median salary of $96,000.
This specialisation under master’s in computer science meets the expanding demand for computer experts with technical training to keep all systems safe and secure. The degree focuses on teaching technical issues such as safe languages, software, and architecture. It also highlights the moral issues of privacy and its legality.
The program teaches topics that range from system security to network security. A few subjects taught are:
- Advanced Cryptography
- Data and Information Security
- Software Safety
- Network Security
- Operating Systems
- Data Mining
- System Security
An information security analyst or a cybersecurity engineer are some of the jobs one can get after completing this specialisation. The average salary earned would be near $85,000.
5. Data Analytics
A specialisation in data analytics engineering teaches a student to analyse and visualize data patterns in real-world domains such as health and transportation.
The mandatory topics in the specialisation would be Machine Learning, Big Data System, Data Science, and MSc Project while the electives would include the following:
- Web Services and Web Data
- Distributed Systems
- Information Visualization
- User Adaptive Intelligent Systems
- Combinatorial Optimisation
- Secure Computing
- Graph Algorithms and Complexity Theory
- Bio-Inspired Computing
This programme offers the practical skills required to gain entry into the areas of applied computing. A graduate would work as an application developer, system designer and evaluator, information analyst.
6. Computer Networking
A concentration in Computer Networks provides you with a foundation in information technology with a core understanding of computer data communication and modern networking.
The core topics taught under computer networking specialisation are:
- Comprehensive, introductory networking course, including digital communications, local area, wide area, wireless, etc.
- Courses in database, IT Mathematics, systems analysis and design, software development
- Network design and implementation
- Network performance analysis and management
- Network security
- Latest networking technology
While the fields are wide open for graduates of this concentration, the most common job position is that of a Network Engineer. The median pay after completing the degree is $108,000.
7. Human-Computer Interaction
An MS in computer science with a concentration in Human-Computer Interaction teaches a student to design for users. The course covers topics that range from wall-sized computers to mobile devices.
The specialization in HCI teaches both technical design and the psychological aspects of effective human-computer interactions. It also provides knowledge of the implementation of systems that help the interactions. A few topics taught are:
- Fundamentals of HCI design and evaluation
- Software and User Interface Development
- Emerging Interaction Techniques
- Object-Oriented Software Development
HCI opens up segments of applied research such as collaborative work, information visualization, and tangible computing. The jobs you will find after this specialisation are: User Experience Designer, User Experience Researcher and Interaction Designer. The median pay will be around $88,000.
The worth of a postgraduate degree is in the pay rise it brings. The highest MS in computer science salary positions are:
- Software Engineer: They are responsible for developing the ways in which software functions work. Therefore, they are included in both the design and development stages. The average pay for the position is $83,681.
- Software Developer: They are responsible for computer applications or programs that allow people to perform tasks on electronic devices. The average pay for this position is $70,388.
- Senior Software Engineer: Their responsibilities are similar to those of software engineers with the added role of leading a team confidently and efficiently. The average pay for the position is $112,852.
- Member of Technical Staff: Top technological firms like Google, Adobe, and Amazon offer this position to individuals to conduct research work. The average pay is $106,906.
- Programmer Analyst: They are responsible for designing, coding, and testing new programs along with customising programs to meet an organization’s requirements. The average pay is $74,852.
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